Cross is all about maintaining your momentum, the less accelerating you have to do, the less tired you’ll get, so balancing your speed with success in whatever you have to get off for, is vital. You really do want to try to avoid this... Last week, we looked at why you might need to get off, this week it's all about how to do it.
As most folk dismount on the left hand side of the bike, I’ve set out left and right hands and feet on this basis. If you want to put a chainring in your back, you’ll just need to swap these sides round. The classy riders can make this look effortless and their body movement from the waist up, remains the same throughout the whole riding, off, running, on, riding process – it’s a joy to watch.
Remembering that maintaining your speed is the main aim, you’re trying to get off and pitch straight into a run. Approach the point you need to dismount at the speed you want to run over/up it. Hold either the top of the bars, or the brake hoods if you need to ease the brakes on to control your speed as you approach.
Unclip your right foot and swing your right leg behind the saddle. Your left leg stays clipped in (at least once you have mastered the skill. You might want to try for the first times unclipped on the left foot too!) and you are then standing on your left leg, with your right leg behind it. Your right hand can then move to hold the top tube or the downtube, depending on whether you are going to lift or shoulder the bike (see last weeks article – link)
At the point about two steps away from the obstacle or bank, you need to drop into a run. This distance might be longer as you start, and may even reduce to one step when you have it nailed. To do this drop the right foot onto the ground as far forwards as you can whilst twisting the left foot out of the pedal.
Some riders (like me) prefer to push the bike away from their body, put their right foot through the gap between left leg and bike and step down whilst twisting the left foot out. Both of these help put the pedals in the right position for getting back on, with the right pedal at about 2 o’clock. Keep your bike stable as you lift it, run up the bank or over the obstacle, and gently put it down to stop it bouncing. You’re then ready to get back on.
Sounds easy! Your straddled your bike and set off thousands of times before when static. Doing it at pace is another matter though. Landing on the saddle badly can have obvious consequences, as can landing on top of a falling bike, with all its sticky up bits, so start practicing this slowly and speed up as you get more used adept.
Get both your hands on the top of the bars, an even distance apart. Keeping a straight line is crucial, so just one hand on the bars has nasty blue flashing light and siren reaching effect. A low jump off the left leg, cocking the right knee up and out in the style of a sprint hurdler until it’s above the saddle. The top of the inside of your right thigh then lands gently on your saddle. You’ll issue expletives rapidly if you try to land on your ‘normal saddle area’.
Once the thigh is on, just slide over and drop your right foot onto the pedal, clipping in at the same time. Work towards a smooth transition from stride to pedal – one single motion. The left leg drops straight onto its pedal and clips in as you power down on that side. As you become adept the whole process becomes more consistent, fluid and faster. To a point, the better you get, the less steps you’ll need, and the more you feel like you’re pulling a bmx style superman as you jump back on.
Even at an early stage of trying this though, you can whizz past all your racing contemporaries and disappear into the muddy distance.
6 October 2011